Title:
STACKED BOWL
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A two-part food containment and waste handling system with an upper portion containing at least one food containment region, and a lower portion with at least one waste-handling region. The upper portion and lower potion fit together at an interface.



Inventors:
Lowenstein, Evan (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/019312
Publication Date:
07/24/2008
Filing Date:
01/24/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45C11/20
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PAGAN, JENINE MARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WOLF, RIFKIN, SHAPIRO, SCHULMAN & RABKIN (11400 West Olympic Boulevard, Ninth Floor, Los Angeles, CA, 90064-1582, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A substantially rigid two part food containment and waste handling system comprising: an upper portion including: at least one food containment region; and a lower portion interface region; and a lower portion including at least one waste containment region; a support system operable to provide support on a substantially planer surface; an upper portion interface region, and at least one aperture region with a path to the waste containment region; wherein the lower portion interface region, and the upper portion interface region are compatible with each other; and the at least one aperture region is associated with an outer perimeter region of at least one of the upper or lower portion, such that waste may be provided to the at least one aperture region.

2. The two part food containment and waste handling system of claim 1, further comprising: an upper portion with a substantially elliptical lower portion interface region; and a lower portion with a substantially matching elliptical upper portion interface region; wherein the lower portion with the at least one waste containment region includes a structural portion associated with the at least one aperture region and the structural portion includes a substantially planer or upwardly-curving cross-sectional morphology.

3. The two part food containment and waste handling system of claim 1 further comprising: an upper portion with a substantially rectangular lower portion interface region; and a lower portion with a similarly sized rectangular upper portion interface region; wherein the rectangle substantially follows a Fibonacci series progression, and the upper portion and the lower portion are offset by about a forty five degree angle and the resultant open corners of the lower portion comprise the at least one aperture region.

4. The two part food containment and waste handling system of claim 1 further comprising: an upper portion with a geometric shape substantially equivalent to at least one of the following: triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, five pointed star and six pointed star, seven pointed star or eight pointer star, and a lower portion with a substantially matching geometric shape; wherein the upper portion and the lower portion are offset so as to form a plurality of apertures.

5. The two part food containment and waste handling system as set forth in claim 1, wherein: the at least one aperture region, with a path to the waste containment region, is along the interface region, and said aperture is defined by the joining of the upper and lower portions.

6. The two part food containment and waste handling system of claim 1; wherein: said upper portion interface region, and said lower portion interface region, are in contact with a conformal component; and said conformal component provides a stable interface.

7. The two part food containment and waste handling system of claim 1; wherein: said top portion is selected from at least one of the following shapes at the lower portion interface region: rectangle; square; circle; triangle; three point star; four point star; six point star; five point star; six point star; seven point star; eight point star; pentagon; hexagon; heptagon; and octagon.

8. The two part food containment and waste handling system as set forth in claim 1; wherein the bottom portion is selected from at least one of the following shapes at the upper portion interface region: rectangle; square; circle; triangle; three point star; four point star; six point star; five point star; six point star; seven point star; eight point star; pentagon; hexagon; heptagon; and octagon.

9. The two part food containment and waste handling system as set forth in claim 1; wherein a horizontal cross-section at or near the upper and lower portion interface has at least one of the following shapes: rectangle; square; circle; triangle; three point star; four point star; six point star; five point star; six point star; seven point star; eight point star; pentagon; hexagon; heptagon; and octagon.

10. The two part food containment and waste handling system as set forth in claim 1; further comprising at least one electromagnetic radiation emitting region.

11. The two part food containment and waste handling system as set forth in claim 10; wherein said at least one region is associated with said upper portion.

12. The two part food containment and waste handling system as set forth in claim 10; wherein the electromagnetic radiation emanates from a region adjacent to said at least one food containment region.

12. The two part food containment and waste handling system as set forth in claim 1; wherein the upper and lower interface regions includes a tongue and groove type interface.



13. The two part food containment and waste handling system as set forth in claim 1; wherein the upper portion and lower portion have substantially the same shape and said at least one aperture is positioned so as to provide a delineation between the food containment region and the aperture configured to receive the waste.

14. The two part food containment and waste handling system as set forth in claim 1; wherein there are a plurality of apertures and the apertures are spaced with a frequency of at least three apertures wherein said at least three apertures approximately equilaterally distributed around the perimeter of the system.

15. A two part food containment and waste handling system comprising: an upper portion with a food containment region, an upper perimeter edge, and a lower portion interface region; and a lower portion with at least one waste containment region, a lower perimeter edge, an upper portion interface region, and at least one aperture region with a path to the waste containment region; and wherein the lower portion interface region, and the upper portion interface region are compatible with each other; and the at least one aperture region is associated with an outer perimeter region such that waste may be provided to the at least one aperture region; and the lower portion with the at least one waste containment region includes a structural portion associated with the at least one aperture region and the structural portion includes an upwardly-curving cross-sectional morphology; and said upper and lower regions are comprised of a substantially rigid material including at least one of the following; plastic; glass; metal; natural fibers; plant products; rubber; earthen materials; ephemeral materials; marble; concrete; jade; ivory; gold; silver; platinum; titanium; aluminum; and a combination including at least two of said materials.

16. The two part food containment and waste handling system of claim 15; wherein said natural fibers include at least one of the following: cotton, hemp, and paper and wherein said ephemeral materials include ice, sugar, gelatinous matter and chocolate.

17. The two part food containment and waste handling system of claim 15; wherein said the aperture region interior includes a substantially nonporous surface.

18. The two part food containment and waste handling system of claim 15 wherein said aperture is coated with a polytetrafluoroethylene coating wherein the polytetrafluoroethylene is augmented with at least one filler, and wherein said filler is comprised of glass fibers, carbon, graphite, molybdenum disulfide, and bronze.

19. A two part food containment and waste handling system comprising: an upper portion with a plurality of food containment regions, wherein each region is associated with an upper perimeter edge, and wherein the food containment region includes a first interface region; and a lower portion with at least one waste containment region, wherein the lower portion includes: a substantially planar base; a second interface region, and at least one aperture region with a path to the waste containment region; and wherein the aperture region at least partially bisects the first and second interface regions; and the first interface region, and the second interface region are separably interfaced; and the system is comprised of a corrosion resistant metal.

20. A two part food containment and waste handling system comprising: an upper portion with a plurality of food containment regions, wherein each region is associated with an upper perimeter edge, and the food containment region includes a first interface region; and a lower portion with at least one waste containment region, wherein the lower portion includes: a substantially planar base; a second interface region, and at least one aperture region with a path to the waste containment region; and the aperture region at least partially bisects the first and second interface regions; and the first interface region, and the second interface region are separably interfaced; and the system is comprised of a substantially rigid plastic.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE

The Applicant claims priority of his earlier filed Provisional Application, Ser. No. 60/886,446, filed Jan. 24, 2007.

BACKGROUND

Field of the Invention

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to containers for food service and storage. More specifically, the present invention relates to food containers, particularly in stacked container arrangements that include a region for the disposal or handling of waste from food products.

The use of stacked bowls arrangements to facilitate the service of food are well known in the art. Most stacked bowl devices known to date have an internal bowl to hold food for service or temporary storage and a second external bowl for holding waste products, ice, condiments, or other related items. For such devices, no direct means exists for transferring contents between the bowls; the wall between the two bowl portions is solid. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 2,294,657 to Flanagan discloses a soup bowl with an inner bowl for containing soup stacked in an outer bowl for containing any soup that spills during consumption. U.S. Pat. No. 2,191,811 to Trampier discloses a similar stacked arrangement wherein animal food is contained in the inner bowl and drinking water is contained in the outer bowl. Similarly, U.S. design patent D122,576 to Steinhilber discloses a design for a salad bowl, and U.S. design patent D274,301 discloses a caviar cup, both of which have an isolated inner bowl stacked into an outer bowl for optimizing food service.

None of the above inventions provides a means for readily removing waster or readily separating the contents of the inner and outer compartments. U.S. Pat. No. 3,756,546 to Cain discloses a stacked bowl arrangement for nuts wherein the compartment for holding nutshells can be readily removed from the stacking arrangement for disposal. However, separation is possible only by active removal, and during service the nutshells are in plain view.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,372,274 improves upon waste removal in a stacked serving and storage bowl This device includes an inner bowl for containing food and an outer bowl for separate thermal control of the inner bowl. At the base of the inner bowl are drain ports, which may be opened into a waste receptacle for removal of excess salad dressing, water, or other undesirable fluids in the inner bowl. Waste products are effectively removed from view. However, the contents of the inner bowl are not shielded from waste products during drainage and waste removal relies primarily on the efficacy of shear forces upon opening of the drain ports.

The present invention improves on the prior art by providing a stacked container arrangement whereby waste products are removed from an inner food container out of view such that contact between food and waste products are minimized and further, that waste is removed with improved efficacy. The present invention addresses potential backup of waste products into the drainage ports and food containment region and, in addition, embodiments of the present invention disclose improved means for removing waste both by effective structural design and active transport of waste products.

SUMMARY

An object of the present invention is to provide a two-part food containment and waste handling system with an upper portion containing at least one food containment region, and a lower portion with at least one waste-handling region. The upper portion and lower potion fit together at an interface. The apparatus has at least one aperture at the interface, which has a path from the food containment region to the waste handling region for transporting waste from the food containment region. In preferred embodiments, the aperture is positioned such that waste can readily pass or be actively transported to the waste handling region without contaminating the food containment region.

One embodiment of the present invention includes a substantially rigid two-part food containment and waste handling system. The system includes an upper portion and a lower portion. The upper portion includes at least one food containment region and a lower portion interface region. The lower portion includes at least one waste containment region, a support system operable to provide support on a substantially planer surface, an upper portion interface region, and at least one aperture region with a path to the waste containment region. In combination the lower portion interface region, and the upper portion interface region are compatible with each other; and the at least one aperture region is associated with an outer perimeter region of at least one of the upper or lower portion, such that waste may be provided to the at least one aperture region.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes an upper portion with a substantially elliptical upper perimeter edge and a lower portion with a substantially matching elliptical lower perimeter edge; wherein the lower portion with the at least one waste containment region includes a structural portion associated with the at least one aperture region and the structural portion includes a substantially planer or upwardly-curving cross-sectional morphology. It is explicitly understood that a perfect ellipse is a circle.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes an upper portion with a substantially rectangular edge and a lower portion with a substantially matching rectangular lower perimeter edge; wherein the rectangle substantially follows a Fibonacci series progression, and wherein the upper portion and the lower portion are offset by about a forty five degree angle and the resultant open corners of the lower portion comprise the at aperture region.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes an upper portion with a geometric shape substantially equivalent to at least one of the following: triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, five pointed star and six pointed star, seven pointed star or eight pointer star, and a lower portion with a substantially matching geometric shape; wherein the upper portion and the lower portion are offset so as to form a plurality of apertures.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes the at least one aperture region, with a path to the waste containment region, is along the interface region, and wherein said aperture is defined by the joining of the upper and lower portions.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes an upper portion interface region, and said lower portion interface region, are in contact with a conformal component, and said conformal component provides a stable interface.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes a top portion selected from at least one of the following shapes at the lower portion interface region: rectangle; square; circle; triangle; three point star; four point star; six point star; five point star; six point star; seven point star; eight point star; pentagon; hexagon; heptagon; and octagon.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes a bottom portion selected from at least one of the following shapes at the upper portion interface region: rectangle; square; circle; triangle; three point star; four point star; six point star; five point star; six point star; seven point star; eight point star; pentagon; hexagon; heptagon; and octagon.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes a horizontal cross-section at or near the upper and lower portion interface has at least one of the following shapes: rectangle; square; circle; triangle; three point star; four point star; six point star; five point star; six point star; seven point star; eight point star; pentagon; hexagon; heptagon; and octagon.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes at least one electromagnetic radiation emitting region.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes an electromagnetic radiation source that emanates from a region adjacent to said at least one food containment region.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also include an upper and lower interface regions including a tongue and groove type interface.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes an upper portion and lower portion, each having substantially the same shape and said at least one aperture is spaced so as to provide a delineation between the food containment region and the aperture configured to receive the waste.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two-part food containment and waste handling system also includes at least three apertures are spaced with a frequency of at approximately equally around the perimeter of the system.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes an upper portion with at least one food containment region, an upper perimeter edge, and a lower portion interface region; and a lower portion with at least one waste containment region a lower perimeter edge, an upper portion interface region, and at least one aperture region with a path to the waste containment region; and wherein the lower portion interface region, and the upper portion interface region are compatible with each other; and the at least one aperture region is associated with an outer perimeter region such that waste may be provided to the at least one aperture region; and the lower portion with the at least one waste containment region includes a structural portion associated with the at least one aperture region and the structural portion includes an upwardly-curving cross-sectional morphology; and said upper and lower regions are comprised of a substantially rigid material including at least one of the following; plastic; glass; metal; natural fibers; plant products; rubber; earthen materials; ephemeral materials; marble; concrete; jade; ivory; gold; silver; platinum; titanium; aluminum; and a combination including at least two of said materials.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes natural fibers, where natural fibers are understood to include at least one of the following: cotton, hemp, and paper and wherein said ephemeral materials include ice, sugar, gelatinous matter and chocolate.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two-part food containment and waste handling system also includes an aperture region interior includes a substantially nonporous surface.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes an aperture region that is coated with a polytetrafluoroethylene coating wherein the polytetrafluoroethylene is augmented with at least one filler, and wherein said filler is comprised of glass fibers, carbon, graphite, molybdenum disulfide, and bronze.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes an upper portion with a plurality of food containment regions, wherein each region is associated with an upper perimeter edge, and wherein the food containment region includes a first interface region; and a lower portion with at least one waste containment region, wherein the lower portion includes: a substantially planar base; a second interface region, and at least one aperture region with a path to the waste containment region; and wherein the aperture region at least partially bisects the first and second interface regions; and wherein the first interface region, and the second interface region are separably interfaced; and wherein the system is comprised of a corrosion resistant metal.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes an two part food containment and waste handling system including an upper portion with a plurality of food containment regions, wherein each region is associated with an upper perimeter edge, and wherein the food containment region includes a first interface region; and a lower portion with at least one waste containment region, wherein the lower portion includes a substantially planar base; a second interface region, and at least one aperture region with a path to the waste containment region; and wherein the aperture region at least partially bisects the first and second interface regions; and wherein the first interface region, and the second interface region are separably interfaced; and wherein the system is comprised of a substantially rigid plastic.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing and other objects, features and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. The drawings are not necessarily to scale; instead, emphasis has been placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. Of the drawings:

FIG. 1 is an elliptical embodiment of the present invention with a non-contoured upper portion;

FIG. 2, is an elliptical embodiment of the present invention with a contoured upper portion;

FIG. 3 is an elliptical embodiment in cross-section;

is side view of another embodiment wherein the top and bottom form an interface, which is punctuated by a plurality of apertures;

FIG. 4 is an rectangular embodiment of the present invention with separate sections;

FIG. 5 is a rectangular embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a rectangular embodiment with indicators;

FIG. 7 is a deep elliptical bowl embodiment;

FIG. 8 is an elliptical embodiment with contoured top and bottom portions.

FIG. 9 is the graduated elliptical embodiment with operational features exposed; and

FIG. 10 is a graduated elliptical embodiment

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

While the invention has been described in connection with what is presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiments, it is understood that the invention is not to be limited to the disclosed embodiment, but on the contrary, is intended to cover various modifications and equivalent arrangements included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

One embodiment of the present invention provides a two-part food containment and waste handling system. FIG. 1 is an elliptical embodiment of the present invention with a non-contoured upper portion. This embodiment includes an upper portion 100 that includes at least one food containment region 102. A lower portion 104 is configured to associatively couple with the upper portion 100. The upper portion 100 and lower portion 104 associatively couple at an interface 108. The interface may include a groove, or a tongue, or a combination of the two. In a preferred embodiment, there is a tongue on the upper portion, which protrudes into the lower portion and prevents later movement of the upper portion 100 relative to the lower portion 104. At least one aperture 110 is provided proximal the interface 108. The aperture 110 provides a path to the waste handling region. In preferred embodiments the aperture 110 is positioned such that waste can readily pass or be actively transported to the waste handling region without contacting the food containment region 102.

Another embodiment of the present invention includes a substantially rigid two-part food containment and waste handling system. FIG. 2 is one embodiment of the present invention including an upper portion 100 and a lower portion 104. The upper portion 100 includes at least one food containment region 102 and a lower portion interface region. The lower portion 104 includes at least one waste containment region, a support system 112 operable to provide support on a substantially planer surface, an upper portion interface region, and at least one aperture region 110 with a path to the waste containment region. In combination, the lower and upper portion interface regions are compatible with each other. This compatibility can include adhesive, hook-and-loop fasteners, adhesives, friction enhancing materials, or protrusions/receivers which retard lateral movement. At least one aperture region 110 is associated with an outer perimeter region 114 of at least one of the upper or lower portion, such that waste may be provided to the at least one aperture region. In FIG. 2, the aperture region is shown bisecting the outer perimeter region 114. In other embodiments the aperture may be confined in whole or in part to either the upper region or the lower region. The lower portion 104 with the at least one waste containment region includes a structural portion 116 associated with the at least one aperture region 110 and the structural portion 116 includes a substantially planer or upwardly-curving cross-sectional morphology. It is explicitly understood that a perfect ellipse is a circle.

FIG. 3 is an elliptical embodiment in cross-section. The outer perimeter region 114 gives way to an aperture 110 which provides passage to the lower portion. A lip 111 may be provided on the lower portion 104 to prevent lateral movement. Of course the lip may consist of a plurality of “teeth” (not shown) which would allow for the placement of the upper portion without the teeth obstructing access to the waste handling region 106. In this embodiment the upper and lower portions have substantially matching elliptical outer perimeter region 114. As illustrated, the system includes a substantially rigid two-part food containment and waste handling system. The upper portion 100 includes a lower portion interface region 115a and the lower portion 104 includes an upper portion interface region 115b.

FIG. 4 is a rectangular embodiment of the present invention with separate sections. In this embodiment the upper portion 100 has a substantially rectangular edge and a lower portion 104 has a substantially matching rectangular lower perimeter edge. Wherein the upper and lower rectangular edges substantially follow a Fibonacci series progression, and wherein the upper portion 100 and the lower portion 104 are offset by about a forty five degree angle and the resultant open corners of the lower portion comprise the at least one aperture region 110. Optionally, the upper portion 100 may include an edge with one or more notches 120. The one or more notches 120 may be a sufficient to accommodate the edge of the lower portion 104. There are a number of food containment regions shown 102. The sizes and shapes may be selected based on intended use, in the illustrated embodiment the circular region may be cooled/heated.

FIG. 5 is a rectangular embodiment of the present invention wherein one or more notches 120 are defined by the removal of sections from the lower region 104. In this embodiment the aperture 110 is at substantially the same level as the upper portion 100. It is usually considered desirable to include a shield 113 that provides a barrier obstructing the path between the aperture 110 and food containment regions 102. Alternatively, and more commonly the port and the top will not be in the same plane.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes an upper portion 100 with a geometric shape substantially equivalent to at least one of the following: triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, five pointed star and six pointed star, seven pointed star or eight pointer star. The lower portion 104 similarly is a substantially matching geometric shape; wherein the upper portion 100 and the lower portion 104 are offset to form a plurality of apertures 110.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes at least one aperture region 110 with a path to the waste containment region 106. In this embodiment the aperture region 110 is along the interface region, and wherein said aperture 110 is defined by the joining of the upper 100 and lower 104 portions. The aperture region 110 need not be bisected or otherwise intersected by the interface, however it may be.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes an upper portion interface region, and a lower portion interface region. The interface regions are in conformal contact with the aid of a conformal component that provides a stable interface. The conformal component may be of the same material used in the upper 100 and lower 104 portions or may be of a non-rigid conforming material. In most embodiments a non-rigid conformal component will be associated with only one of the upper 100 and lower 104 portions.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes a bottom portion 104 selected from at least one of the following shapes at the upper portion interface region: rectangle; square; circle; triangle; three point star; four point star; six point star; five point star; six point star; seven point star; eight point star; pentagon; hexagon; heptagon; and octagon or a gear like structure having rounded edges. It is contemplated that the shape of the bottom portion 104 may have a different shape at the interface 108 and at the base support 112. For instance, the interface may have the shape of a star while the bottom of the lower portion 104 may be elliptical or rectangular, where it is understood that elliptical and rectangular would include substantially square and substantially circular respectively.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes a horizontal cross-section at or near the upper and lower portion interface has at least one of the following shapes: rectangle; square; circle; triangle; three point star; four point star; six point star; five point star; six point star; seven point star; eight point star; pentagon; hexagon; heptagon; and octagon.

FIG. 6 is another embodiment of the present invention and includes a two-part food containment and waste handling system. The two-part system includes at least one electromagnetic radiation-emitting region 122. The separating elements 124 may be color-coded either permanently or with the aid of a source of illumination 122. The source of illumination may be imbedded in, or associated with, a top portion 100 or the top portion 100 may contain elements, capable of conducting light. The wavelengths or colors can indicate type of flavor (hot mild, sweet, sour, bitter etc) or the absence/presence of certain ingredients meat (or certain kinds of meat), gluten, whey, dairy, MSG etc. The top portion may be associated with a card, which would explain the color scheme, or a legend could appear on the bowl itself. In a preferred embodiment the colors would be selected n a manner which is intuitively obvious, such as a fiery red for a hot salsa while an orange could indicate a more moderate flavor and a yellow could indicate a mild flavor. If light emitting diodes are utilized the light color can be changed based on battery polarity thus a single LED could be used for more than one color, if desired. Similarly, the color scheme could be used to indicate caloric value where, by way of example only, blue could symbolize lower calorie foods and red could symbolize higher calorie foods. Flash rate could also be used, where a more rapid flash could refer to a more intense flavor or higher caloric value while a slower flash could indicate a less intense value. The flash rate may, optionally be based on temperature or emit colors based temperature, food conductivity, pH, or density to name a few indicia that could serve as the criteria for indication. The separating elements may also be constructed of material that indicates temperature, moisture content or other characteristics of the food by chemical or physical change.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes an electromagnetic radiation source 122 wherein the radiation emanates from a region adjacent to said at least one food containment region 102, alternatively the radiation may emanate from the bottom of the food containment region 102, thereby imparting a color to the food, or assisting in the identification of food in a low light setting.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also include an upper and lower interface region including a tongue and groove type interface.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes an upper portion and lower portion, each having substantially the same shape and said at least one aperture is spaced so as to provide a delineation between the food containment region and the aperture configured to receive the waste. The delineation ideally includes both vertical and horizontal separation.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two-part food containment and waste handling system also includes at least three apertures are spaced with a frequency of at approximately equally around the perimeter of the system. The apertures may be wholly in the upper or lower portion or may be at the interface.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes an upper portion 100 with at least one food containment region 102, an upper perimeter edge, and a lower portion interface region. The lower portion 104 includes at least one waste containment region a lower perimeter edge, an upper portion interface region, and at least one aperture region 110 with a path to the waste containment region. The lower portion 104 interface region, and the upper portion interface region are compatible with each other and the at least one aperture region 110 is associated with an outer perimeter region such that waste may be provided to the at least one aperture region 110; and the lower portion with the at least one waste containment region includes a structural portion associated with the at least one aperture region and the structural portion includes an upwardly-curving cross-sectional morphology. The upper and lower regions 100 and 104 respectively are comprised of a substantially rigid material including at least one of the following; plastic; glass; metal; natural fibers; plant products; rubber; earthen materials; ephemeral materials; marble; concrete; jade; ivory; gold; silver; platinum; titanium; aluminum; and a combination including at least two of said materials. In one embodiment the material has a shiny appearance similar to brushed nickel, or alternatively polished stainless steel.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two-part food containment and waste handling system also includes natural fibers, where natural fibers are understood to include at least one of the following: cotton, hemp, and paper and wherein said ephemeral materials include ice, sugar, gelatinous matter and chocolate. In the case that the two-part food containment and waste handling system is made of an ephemeral material the material, especially in the case of gelatinous or ice the invention includes the option of adding the illumination means to the mold so that the illumination can be seen through the material of the containment system.

The invention could be carried out using a formed bowl customized for an occasion. For instance, a holiday party may dictate a green and red stacked bowl combination where ice, colored white chocolate, gelatin dessert or other material may be used. A user would prepare a quantity of green colored liquid using well-known techniques (food coloring for example and pour the solution into a first lower bowl portion to fill to the indicated mark the second lower bowl is thereafter placed into the upper bowl thus defining a “bowl portion” in the aperture. The combination of bowls is then placed in the freezer and allowed to freeze. The upper portion is similarly constructed except using a red colored liquid and first and second upper bowls. Once the liquids are solidified, the bowls may be removed and the device placed into service. It should be noted that a variety of thicknesses are contemplated. It may also be desirable to use a gelatin solution if the ice would melt too quickly or a different look or consistency is desired. Wax may be used if a wax bowl is desired. Further, it may desirable to make a “bread bowl.” In one embodiment the molding bowls are suitable for making a bread bowl. It may also be desirable to make a clay bowl, for instance as part of a licensing scheme. It is also contemplated that either the lower or the upper portion may be constructed as non-ephemeral. Often the upper portion would fall into this category. For instance, shrimp could be served on an ice top bowl with a Styrofoam type lower bowl and when the ice melted, the shrimp would be relegated to the waste bowl, thus preventing guests from eating seafood that may have been left at room temperature too long.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two-part food containment and waste handling system also includes an aperture region interior includes a substantially nonporous surface. The aperture region may be coated with a material having properties of Teflon® that is a polytetrafluoroethylene coating wherein the polytetrafluoroethylene is augmented with at least one filler, and wherein said filler is comprised of glass fibers, carbon, graphite, molybdenum disulfide, and bronze.

In another embodiment of the present invention the two part food containment and waste handling system also includes an upper portion with a plurality of food containment regions, wherein each region is associated with an upper perimeter edge. Each food region may have a different depth. The food containment regions include a first interface region, and a lower portion with at least one waste containment region. Waste containment regions could separate waste by aperture. This would have the effect of allowing an entertainer to know which guest or table area was most popular. The lower portion includes a substantially planar base; a second interface region, and at least one aperture region with a path to the waste containment region; and wherein the aperture region at least partially bisects the first and second interface regions. Further, the first interface region, and the second interface region are separably interfaced; and wherein the system is comprised of a corrosion resistant metal, or wherein the system is comprised of a substantially rigid plastic.

In another embodiment the system may take the form of a person and the apertures may correspond to one or more of the acute or obtuse angles. Including where extremities, such as legs, arms, or head are attached to the torso. In this case, the top and bottom assume substantially the same shape the waste receiving aperture will generally provide a clear delineation between the food and the waste, preferably with an elevation and width separation. However, it is contemplated that the mouth, in the case of a human shaped system could serve as the aperture. In this embodiment, the food containment regions may be tailored to offer separate regions for traditionally colored areas of the body. Such as a food containment region that would hold food to color the hair, eyes, lips etc.

In another embodiment it is anticipated that the aperture will be at least an inch wide and half an inch high so as to accommodate the thumb and pointing finger of an average person and an olive pit. The size range will vary immensely. However, half to three inches and half to two inches represent a common preferred range.

In another embodiment the upper portion 100 will be able to stand independent of the bottom portion 104, and the bottom portion may be used to serve a main course of a meal and thereafter be used as a waste receptacle. In other embodiments it is contemplated that there will be embodiments with an aperture where the top and bottom come together to form the aperture, it is also contemplated that embodiments will provide for the aperture to be exclusively in the bottom or exclusively in the top. In this latter case, the aperture will preferably be located to as to reduce the likelihood that the waste will contact the food. This may be achieved by careful placement, potentially at the periphery of the top or if in the center of the top, then a larger aperture may be employed to as to facilitate quick and easy disposal. In the case where the aperture is in the center, the aperture may be elevated or it may be defined by the separation zone perimeters, which are submerged.

The aperture 110 may be located on the side of the system and may includes an open top slide 126 or “scoop”, that is where the bottom protrudes beyond the top. As illustrated in FIG. 7 the first part is an upper portion 100 containing at least one food containment region 102, and a lower portion 104 with at least one waste-handling region. The upper portion 100 and lower potion 104 fit together at an interface 108, where the interface 108 may be above the aperture 110, go through 108 the aperture 110 or pass below 108 the aperture 110. The apparatus has at least one aperture 110 which has a path to the waste handling region. In preferred embodiments the aperture 110 is positioned such that waste can readily pass or be actively transported to the waste handling region without contaminating the food containment region 102. In an alternative embodiment the aperture 110 includes a closed top slide (bottom and top protrude about the same distance) and optionally the resulting chute or slide may have an elliptical or rectangular cross-section.

FIG. 8 is an embodiment where the top 100 and bottom 104 portions of the aperture 110 extend about the same distance and allow for the depositing of waste into the waste containment region. The lower portion of the apertures 110 include a sufficiently suitable slope so as to encourage gravity to draw the waste into the bottom portion 104 preventing waste form accumulating on the edge of the aperture 110. The food containment region 102 may be divided into a plurality of sub-regions or may be a single bowl. The bottom portion may also be used to accommodate a fuel source, which will keep the contents of the upper portion warm. The bottom 104 may also be divided into a plurality of regions, and each region may be associated with a response when the aperture 110 receives material. The response may be physical (coating, stripping, cleaning, burning) mechanical, or visual.

In another embodiment the aperture 110 includes a cover that provides privacy when an object is inserted, or dropped, in this case the top protrudes beyond the bottom. Regardless of the shape of the top and bottom portion, all embodiments can have apertures of different shapes (including geometric shapes). The most common aperture shape is a square, oval, circle, triangle, or other shape; and each shape may be upturned, flat, or down-turned. In most cases upturned or flat is preferred.

The aperture may be equipped with a swinging door, the door may be spring-loaded and may be accompanied by lights and sound effects when an object is deposited. Further, the aperture could be associated with a top or bottom light sensor, which could notify a user when the port is blocked. The notification could be by means of a flashing light or audio signal or other perceptible signal.

A spray system could wash/disinfect the fingers/hands of a user as they deposit matter. In this case, a larger aperture may be indicated, especially if the hands are to be disinfected, degreased, or otherwise cleaned. A track, conveyor belt, or other conveyance means and a scrapper may be used to move material into the bottom portion. The scrapper may be associated with a spray such as a disinfectant such as alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, or water etc.

Another embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIG. 9 and FIG. 10 includes an upper portion 100, a lower portion 104, an aperture 110 and a waste receiving portion. The present invention can the form of environmental systems or naturally occurring shapes. FIG. 9 might be a tornado or a blossom and food served in such an embodiment could be reflective of the structure. Other structures may include the cross-section of a seashell, an agricultural product, or a commercial product. In the case of an automobile, the wheel wells could serve as the waste receiving portion. The extensions 128 in FIG. 10 serve to allow particulate to move from regions adjacent to the lower portion 104 perimeter wall to the lower portion 104 center. The bottom interior may be contoured to facilitate such movement.

As for the material that can be used in making the bowls virtually any material now known or later invented, which possess a degree of rigidity will work. In a preferred embodiment the surface of the waste receiving portion should ideally be at an angle such that many anticipated wastes will slide into the waste area and not accumulate in or around the aperture. A polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) coating sold under the brand name Teflon® may be selected because of its low coefficient of friction.

The upper portion 100 may take many forms without departing from the scope of the invention this would include a sharp, narrow divider 124 or a wide blunt divider 124. The separation may include areas suitable for use with sauce, salsa, cheese, etc. and areas suitable for other foods such as chips, fruit, vegetables, meat etc. there may further be a serving tool receptor area. One embodiment of the present invention includes an area where customized words may be added, or where preset text may be placed. These areas, taken together may be referred to as message areas. The message areas may be used to convey sentiments corresponding to an event, (wedding, funeral, Bar Mitzvah, graduation etc.) or may be used to describe food, especially if the food is not familiar to the prospective consumers. This may be especially advantages at retail establishments where the prospective customer may sample goods, learn about the goods, and thereafter dispose of toothpick, wrapper, pit or other delivery system or waste product.

The separation zones 102 may be of various depths and wherein the depths may optionally be provided to create the illusion of equal quantities of food even though different quantities are set out, thus creating a more aesthetically pleasing dish. The different depths are useful if components of different sizes are to be served but are traditionally consumed at different volume rates. The different depths may also allow for placement of a heating pad or element of a cooling element or ice at the bottom of a shallower dish thus keeping the certain foods warmer or cooler as appropriate. If ice is used a drain layer which may or may not drain into the lower portion 104 or may drain into a segregated portion of the lower layer.

One possible heating element would include a chemical heating pack, potentially with phase change characteristics, alternatively a heat sink such as a Peltier cooler, which relies on the Peltier effect may be utilized. While generally understood to one of ordinary skill in the relevant art, the effect relies on the creation of a mini, solid state heat pump, or thermoelectric cooler. The cooler may also be used to provide heat to another adjacent zone. In some embodiments the separation zones may be adjustable and/or removable, and include drainage, heating and/or cooling features.

The bottom portion 104 generally will be opaque or have limited light passing characteristics. In the latter case, the light passing characteristics would be sufficient to see the quantity of waste but not specifically identify the nature and composition of the waste. Alternatively, as illustrated in FIG. 11 the waste bowl may be completely transparent. It is also contemplated that the bottom portion 104 may take a variety of shapes and forms. For instance, the bottom portion 104 may assume an hourglass shape, and may include a screw off bottom to facilitate cleaning. The bottom portion 104 may be configured to provide a floor support, wherein the waste may be retained in an upper waste receiver or the waste may be allowed to fall to the bottom of the bottom portion. It is also contemplated that features may be present to facilitate the delivery of the waste from the waste receiving aperture to the bottom. This may include a physical conveyor belt 130, which would be visible to the user and upon which a user would deposit waste 145. The conveyor belt 130 moves the waste into the waste handling region 106. It is also contemplated that the conveyor belt 130 would be associated with a cleaning component. The waste receiving aperture 110 may also have a wiper, which upon delivery of waste would scoop the same away. Another embodiment would rely on a water or air slide to move the waste into the bottom portion. In another design, a simple gravity configuration is used. The bottom portion 104 may include a number of waste handling features, including a rotating portion 132, which, with the aid of a gate 134 distributes the waste evenly over the bottom of the waste handling region 106. The rotating portion 132 could be programmed to turn at a constant speed, to turn when any waste 144 (pile associated with a waste receiving site) reached beyond a certain height 136. Such a system may rely on a light sensing system that includes an emitter 138 and a receiver 140, and a switch that activates the rotating portion 132, in the shown embodiment, a wire 142 carries the signal to activate the rotating portion. This embodiment might facilitate games where participants try to add trash to various ports without triggering the rotating system. The bottom may also be programmed to turn at predetermined or random times.

In the context of a retail display, the bottom portion may have a length of several feet so that the system may sit on the floor and dispense food at counter level. In such a case, it is contemplated that the waste would not be permitted to fall to the bottom of the bottom portion 104. The bottom portion may include legs, one or two with a base foot or base feet or three or more legs are currently contemplated.

The bottom portion 104 may also include a macerator, which systematically macerates the waste optionally allowing viewers to watch the process. It is contemplated that the bottom would include a receiver portion which would be designed to accommodate the macerator or other waste handling component and thereby the waste handling component could be removed allowing the bottom portion to be easily cleaned.

In some configurations of the present invention, the interface between the two containers is sunken as needed so that the two containers are firmly held in place. This may be accomplished in a number of ways including a tongue and groove or differently sized top and bottom containers with a restraining lip.

While the above provides a full and complete disclosure of the preferred embodiments of the invention, various modifications, alternate constructions and equivalents may be employed without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention.

Therefore, the above description and illustrations should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention which is defined by the appended claims.